Posted on Leave a comment

Copper Pipe and Impressed Blanks

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart

It’s time to take some poorly stamped blanks and make slightly better looking copper pipe pendants out of them! Are you ready? If you don’t remember the whole ordeal that was my first experience with metal stamping, you can find that here. TL;DR – if there wasn’t such a thing as a “rage pendant” before, it exists now because I made one. 

Setting aside the dramatic process of rage jewelry making, sometimes things work out beautifully! It just so happens that those little blanks are the PERFECT size to dangle inside a slice of copper pipe. 

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
Why does my mat look so dirty? 🙁

I started out with the Tree of Life piece since it came out the closest to some sort of reasonably good usable impressed upon metal. What do you call a stamped blank anyway? Is there a word for it? Or is it just a stamped blank and that’s it? Well the tree was kinda good and I like the design, so I snipped a bit (too much) of black wire. I thought it would look good with the design, and it does, but there’s one problem with black craft wire. It is SO easy to get tool marks on it and then you’re left with very noticeable copper spots. It also makes me wonder how long the black will last on the wire, but this was an experiment, so perfection was not necessary. I kept the natural curve of the wire after the loop to go with the design. 

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
It wouldn’t focus!

I took a slice of copper pipe with a hole drilled in it and threaded the wire through. A quick loop and a wrap later and it became a pendant! I like how this wrap looks, but it doesn’t prevent the pipe from spinning around the blank. I think that might be okay (like a “feature”) for some pieces, but in this case I’m not wild about it. 

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
Pliers make a great prop for stubborn jewelry that won’t sit still.

Round two! This time I wanted to fix the spinny pipe problem, so I started this piece the same way as the first, but finished the wrap a little differently. I gave it a little “tail” to bend down over the back of the pipe. At first I tried to bend the wire on itself to give it a more finished look and to keep it from having a cut wire sitting against the wearer. The only problem is that it rarely ever occurs to me to measure things when it comes to wire wrapping. No big deal, right? Eyeballing it is totally fine! 

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
Measuring is for chumps!

Eyeballing it did not work this time around and my tail was waaaaay too long. Since you can’t really unbend a wire that’s bent in half (well, you CAN, but it will most likely break), I had no choice but to cut it. By the way, eyeballing it totally worked that time and that tail did its job. No more spinny pipe pendant!

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
Ok, maybe measuring can be helpful… (*grumble grumble*)


jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
Mission accomplished!

Are you ready for the finale? The rage piece got a little extra experimentation. Instead of drilling a hole for the wire, I decided to wrap the blank onto the pipe. That way it saves me from drilling a hole and the pipe won’t spin. It’s also because I thought I drilled three pieces of pipe, but apparently only did two. Oops!

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
The question now is: leather or chain?

It might need a little tweaking, but it’s not too bad! The wrap also gives the rage stamps the subtle air of suffocating angst. (Was that too much?) This might be the one I wear myself! 

All in all these were a lot of fun to make! If I can get my stamping technique on point this could be a whole other line for my shop. 

jewelry making craft copper pipe metal stamping impressart
But what do I call them??

There will definitely be more of these coming with more precision and less frustration! If you have an idea that you want me to try, let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter. 

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

Posted on Leave a comment

Shifting Art Gears

fluid art painting acrylic ink

October has just flown by! After the past few weeks of doing Inktober and Drawlloween and staying (roughly) on track, I realized that I haven’t done anything with jewelry, painting, or the site. Sorry about that! 

It also got me thinking. I’m really loving drawing again. Not that I ever didn’t love it, but I’m rediscovering all the “behind the scenes” things that happen in art that make the experience of creating so robust. It’s deciding on concepts, looking at reference images, quick sketches to see if something will work, and starting over again when it doesn’t. It’s all the things that happen before the final piece is even started. 

I’ve also been thinking that I don’t miss the fluid art. There’s only so much time before and after work and in between family activities. Every day is a choice of what to make – if there’s even time (or energy) to make anything at all. For me, fluid art was a stepping stone to bring art back into my life. It was something I could just make without having to worry about it too much (plus I learned how to make videos, which was super fun!). Then I started working on an old painting again. That got me thinking of ways to revamp old pieces and ideas for starting new ones – so the “fluid art phase” did what it was supposed to do.

fluid art painting acrylic ink
They’re everywhere!
fluid art painting acrylic ink
They’re here, too!
fluid art painting acrylic ink
I can’t even look at them anymore! lol

Now that my walls are covered in trippy paintings, I’m ready to move on. Of course, with Inktober I’m drawing every day again. So the natural progression seems to be to shift gears and focus more on that. I’m not going to make any more fluid art videos, but I do want to start recording my drawing and painting. 

As for jewelry, I know I haven’t posted much about that here, but I’m going to keep going with that. I won’t be making any more Pebeo pieces, so I’m working on using up the Pebeo paint that I have left. For jewelry I’m going to focus on copper pipe necklaces and the “doogle” pins. There’s been enough experimenting and wasting supplies “in the name of science!” And it’s time to get the craft table under control. Seriously, it’s a mess. Time for some fall cleaning!

messy craft table clean up
So. Embarrassing.

All of the Inktober stuff is coming as soon as the month is up! I feel like this year is miles better than last year, but we can talk about that in a few days when the pics go up. 🙂

But for now, thanks for reading! Until next time!

BTW, if you want to check out last year’s Inktober/Drawlloween fiasco, click here. 🙂

Posted on Leave a comment

Inktober and Drawlloween Are Here!!!

inktober drawlloween ink drawing sketching October

If you don’t know them, you’re gonna know them! Starting today, it’s a drawing per day – two if you’re in it for both events. Every day there is a prompt and you draw it. Simple, right? For Inktober it’s an ink drawing and for Drawlloween it’s a drawing in whatever medium you want. 

Of the two prompt lists I prefer Mab Graves’ Drawlloween because it’s more October-related. It’s lots of spooky fun and it’s super interesting to see other artists’ interpretations of even the most familiar monsters. 

drawlloween October 2018 drawing sketching mab graves
Spooooooky Drawlloween prompts from Mab Graves!

On the other hand, I think the Inktober list is more challenging because it’s more abstract. The prompt of the day could spark instant inspiration or leave you absolutely stuck, which is really the point of prompts, isn’t it?

OFFICIAL Inktober 2018 prompts!

Last year I did both for the first time, something I don’t recommend if you’re short on time! I started the month off strong, then ended up a couple of days behind and would play catch up. Then I would do well for a while and end up behind again. I think I did most of the last week on the last day! So I wasn’t super great about getting the drawings done every day, but I was determined to get them all done and I did. 

inktober drawlloween ink drawing sketching October
Some pages are alright. 🙂

That being said, there are definitely some stinkers in there. It’s even more obvious because I dedicated a sketchbook to October. I don’t have to think back to which prompts I had issues with or which ones I relied to much (or not enough) on a reference for. I bet you could pick out which ones I had issues with, too. 🙂

fail inktober drawlloween ink drawing sketching October
Some pages I’m not proud of. AT. ALL. Seriously, this must have been a rough day…

I’m hoping this year is an improvement over last year. I don’t want to be too obvious or cliche and I’m thinking a ban on references might be in order! The sketchbook also needs to include the “junk” drawings and not just the final ideas. All that white space is uuuuuugly! Oh, did I forget to mention that I put all the drawings up on the site? Yep, they’re there – every single one. Give me another day and the “junk” will be up too. 🙂

Inktober and Drawlloween are two more reasons that October is my favorite month! If you follow the hashtags you can check out all the cool drawings that come out this time of year. Come November 1st, I’ll be posting the next section of my October sketchbook – for better or worse!

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

Posted on Leave a comment

Roadblocks Don’t Have to be Roadblocks

manga atsushi nakajima anime bungou stray dogs drawing sketching

Life has weird ways of interfering with the things we want to do. Roadblocks happen all the time. Sometimes they seem to be everywhere, sapping energy, joy, and inspiration. Ugh. That’s a bleak start to a blog isn’t it? But it’s kind of how the last week or so has been. Lots of effort (or maybe not nearly enough?) and not much to show for it. This first paragraph is even a stretch. I’m saying I’m sorry now because I know it’s not my best. 

So what can we do when are just – blah?

I can tell you that a couple of days ago I was so tired I just lumped on the couch and binged a few episodes of Attack on Titan, occasionally glancing over at my sketchbook on the drafting table. It was a horrible feeling, like I just couldn’t handle getting up to do even a *little* bit of sketching. I knew physically I was capable, but it didn’t happen. I fell asleep early and woke up feeling… not at all better. Yeah, I know. You totally feel bad for me now. 🙂

manga atsushi nakajima anime bungou stray dogs
Atsushi Nakajima referenced straight from the Bungou Stray Dogs manga!

This next day was different though. As icky blah as I was feeling the following evening (my only time to work on any art during the week), I did a little drawing. It was just a bit of work on a drawing of Atsushi Nakajima (Bungou Stray Dogs) I started the week before, but it was something! And I think that’s the key to these types of roadblocks – or at least part of it. Something is better than nothing. A squiggle, a few lines, a small start – something that could be built on later. Or not. But it’s something!

Atsushi Nakajima Bungou Stray Dogs manga anime drawing sketching
Got a bit more done on Atsushi. One more sitting should do it!

There’s something important to remember, though, and it deals with part two. We all have those days where stuff doesn’t get done for one reason or another. Sometimes being tired is a perfectly ok excuse! Feeling bad about it doesn’t change anything. Guilt doesn’t make roadblocks go away – moving on does. It can start with a small bit of progress on a tough day or by taking a little time to check out mentally. Neither one of those things is wrong!

The blah isn’t totally gone, but taking a day off from work definitely helped. Just thinking about having the better part of a day with the house to myself was super relaxing! The night before I worked on a bunch of jewelry and poured a painting and still had a little time to play some video games with my kid. 

The day off is being spent working on whatever I feel like working on because it’s right now and the first thing I’m doing is finishing this blog post. I plan to finish Atsushi later this morning, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t. Maybe I’ll take a nap or do a little painting. Whatever happens after I hit publish, I’m moving on from those roadblocks. 

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

P.S. If you want to see my stuff as soon as it’s done, check out my Twitter. Thanks! You’re the best!



September 30: 

I finished it. 🙂

bungou stray dogs Atsushi Nakajima anime manga
Atsushi Nakajima is all done, but this won’t be the last time I draw him!
Posted on 1 Comment

I Learned a Lesson…

The case of the fake Body-Kun (FBK) figures has been resolved! Sort of. I ended up having to ship them back at my expense for twice the cost of the original shipping. I didn’t like it, but I’ll get most of my money back. Perhaps I can (begrudgingly) justify it as the cost of a lesson learned… HOWEVER, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I ordered another set of figures! It’s okay this time, really! They are authentic Figma Archetype figures and they are SO much better!

Archetype:He and Archetype:She just chillin out!

There was a deadline for sending back the FBKs, but the Figmas arrived just in time to do a comparison. The poor quality of the FBKs was even more obvious when they were next to the Figmas. It’s all covered in my unboxing video here: 

Even more fun was playing with the figures afterward! The Figmas were less expensive than the FBKs, but they also came with zero accessories and not as many extra hands. That was not a dealbreaker at all since I’d rather have a few pieces that are high quality than a bunch of low quality junk. It does mean that I’ll have to be creative in finding props for the Figmas, so the first place I looked was my kid’s toy box! 

There was a Power Ranger sword and a gun from one of the action figures in the action figure bin. Sadly, both were too big for the figures’ tiny hands. What more than made up for that was the slightly forgotten dinosaur set hiding under the bed! There were rocks, trees, and dinos of all sizes. I grabbed a couple of tanks, a monster truck, and some finger puppets – all in the name of seeing how good these figures really are!

The dino scene came first. The dinos on hand were too small for the figures, but the point was really to see if they would sit on the dinos without any help. They definitely did and I even got them to look half-way passable as a reference. That is, if you like giants on dinosaurs. Or people on tiny dinosaurs. Before taking it all down I put the Archetype:She on a monster truck and sent it at the Archetype:He still on a dinosaur. She didn’t stay on, but it was still fun! She even stayed in the position I put her in. 


After this it was time to put them on tanks! It took several tries to get the tanks to hit each other, but with every attempt the figures stayed perched on top – at least until the collision! I can also confirm that they will stand up on their own and can even handle a little extra something.

They’re wearing finger puppets almost as big as they are!

I swear, I WILL use them for drawing references. I’m also going to hit the dollar store and see if there’s anything floating around there that might make a good prop. If you have an idea or something you want me to try, let me know!

Thanks for reading! Until next time!


Things with PayPal and the fake Body Kun dispute did not end well. Not only did Canada Post lose my package, but it couldn’t be located and I didn’t insure it. Doh! Since I couldn’t prove to PayPal that the fake Body Kun company received the item (even I though I showed that it shipped), they ruled that I couldn’t get a refund. So I’m out the cost of the figures, the cost of sending them back, and I don’t even have crappy Body Kun knock offs to keep making fun of.

I tell everyone that ends up in the same boat as me to dispute with PayPal and report the company as a scam. It probably won’t make a difference, but sometimes raising a little hell can be cathartic. If I could go back I would have just kept the figures and turn them into a project to expose a company that amounts to a drop shipper for Chinese knock offs. I’m totally not still bitter about the whole thing…

To make myself feel better I order what I’m pretty sure is an authentic Body Chan. We’ll see what happens. 😀

She should be arriving any day now, but in the meantime enjoy these other figures I found. They’re pretty interesting. 🙂

Posted on Leave a comment

Confession Time!!

osamu dazai bungou stray dogs manga anime drawing sketch

I’ve been a One Piece for a long time now. There. I said it. Not that it’s really admitting to anything, but I remember the days when liking any anime was a particularly nerdy thing. I guess that’s hard to shake… I remember watching Sailor Moon after school (as a teenager) and if anyone came home early I immediately turned it off because no one could ever find out. Looking back, I don’t know why I cared. 

But that’s not the point of all this. I recently had a pretty serious realization. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid (that’s not the realization). That’s n years of experience playing with various media and styles. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never – not once – drawn anything in an anime or manga style. Not really sure why, but it just never occurred to me. Maybe I was perfectly happy just taking it all in!

Not too long before that epic realization, I had already started playing with the style. A book was totally necessary (because I like having a physical reference) and I started drawing along with the examples. I was bored after a few pages, but still flip through it here and there, just like all of my other art books. 

art reference books drawing painting sketching
I know it’s easy enough to find references for free online, but I like books!

So I have some quick doodles of floating heads with different expressions, some from the book and some from my brain. Some are sober art, some involved *a touch* of wine. 

anime manga heads sketch draw art practice
Can you tell which ones are from the book? Oh, and I can totally draw figures. For realsies! I just like faces…

I got bored with that, too. Have you noticed I get bored easily?? 🙂 The only thing is I don’t know if I was really bored with it or uninspired or worse – am I just not creative? At this point it made sense to start drawing from my favorite anime and manga characters, but it’s not creative if it’s copying, right? But the copying can lead to ideas, right? And who’s to say what’s creative and what’s not? *sigh* In the future I might reusing part of that first paragraph: Looking back, I don’t know why I cared.

At first I figured I’d start drawing some characters and they’d never see the light of day because they don’t fit in with anything else I’m currently doing and that. is. STUPID. Here’s the first few.

Luffy from One Piece was first. He’s my *second* favorite from that series, but he’s pretty simple to draw. It was a nice warm up and I got to remember the subtle differences in how he looked pre-timeskip. 

puffy one piece anime manga drawing sketch
He’s having a serious moment, ok?

Who’s my all-time favorite? Zoro. Always has been and always will be. I fangirled over Law for a short time because lots of us did (and still do), but Zoro will always be my favorite. As someone who can get lost making only right turns, I guess I can relate to the guy. He was the next one I drew (obvs).

roronoa zoro one piece anime manga drawing sketch
Floating Head Goggles Zoro. <3 I also drew a girl that was supposed to have the same expression as Luffy. Success?

The face came out a little too thin for Zoro and the floating head look isn’t a good one. The paper in that sketchbook is also total garbo (it’s the “junk” book). Now I have sketchbook dedicated to anime characters and guess who’s on the first page? 

roronoa zoro one piece anime manga drawing sketch
Maybe I’ll add some floating heads across the bottom… (no I won’t!)

I don’t want to flood entire sections of my sketchbook with just one character or one anime, so next up was Dazai from Bungou Stray Dogs, because Dazai. 🙂

osamu dazai bungou stray dogs manga anime drawing sketch
I did a little extra shading because I like to shade. And Dazai has his dramatic moments, so he deserves it. 🙂

And that’s about where I’m at right now. It’s been a busy few days (excuses, I know!), so I haven’t had much extra time. Either puck or Guts from Berserk will be next. In the meantime, and in the interest of full disclosure, please enjoy some pages from my “junk” sketchbook! (I’m going to go hide in a corner now)

manga drawing sketch
Eyes and a couple of profiles from the book, followed by nonsense.
manga drawing sketch
Nonsense, followed by eyes!
anime mange drawing sketch face angry
The face on top was already on the page, so I sort of based the other faces on it kinda?
manga anime drawing sketch
I drew a bunch of mouths and lips. I still draw lips based on some stuff from a book on drawing comics. Then some emotions. Oh, the emotions!
manga anime drawing sketch
Don’t ask what’s going on here. Maybe the face on the left side says it all. Honestly I think it was one of those days that I wasn’t really feeling it. We all have them. 🙂


















Want to see more? Have a request? Let me know! @createm0de

Thanks for reading!




Posted on Leave a comment

I Made a Mistake…

body-kun body-chan figuarts bandai fakes

I like to think I’m pretty careful when it comes to buying stuff online, but I can also get a little impulsive. Because of that, I found myself in a small predicament all because I saw something shiny on Instagram. If you’ve ever taken a drawing class, there’s a good chance you had to sketch one of those nondescript wooden mannekins that sort of, but not really, look like people. It’s tough to get them into any sort of natural position, but for a basic subject to sketch, they’re pretty good. 

drawing reference wood mannekins dog penguin
A happy little family of drawing references!

That being said, I’ve been looking around for quite some time for an alternative – something that is more natural that I can look at in real life. Picture references are fine, but it’s different than sketching from life. Odd little knick-knacks around the house are great for a challenge, but at the end of the day I really like to sketch from the human figure. So when I saw an Instagram ad for Body-Kun figures, it looked like the most perfect solution ever! The site they were (ARE) being sold from is sketchy (the first red flag), but I ignored that for this perfect thing that was the answer to all my sketching reference dreams. The projected delivery time was 3-4 weeks due to high order volume. That was red flag number two. 

drawing reference body-kun body-chan fakes
Seems legit?

I received tracking information about a week after the order was placed, but it didn’t budge after that. During that time, I did the research I should have done before placing the order. I found instances referencing that exact site (and others) where poorly made knock-offs were being sold.

How to tell if an S. H. Figuarts Body Kun/Body Chan is fake … Has anyone bought a Bodykun from here …

The real product is made by Bandai S.H. Figuarts and they are not for sale just anywhere. There are certain retailers that sell them and they are not available all the time. If you aren’t getting one of those, you most likely are not getting the real product. There’s even a handy post on DeviantArt that shows the differences between the real and the fake figures:

Once the order hit the four-week mark, I contacted the company to see what was up. They said the item was backordered and I would have it by the following week. I immediately checked my tracking info again and it was gone. Big, fat, red flag number three. 

I let a few days go by and decided I wanted nothing to do with any of it, so I contacted them again and requested a refund. Of course, they said the order was on the way and therefore couldn’t cancel. So I turned to PayPal, filed a dispute that I didn’t received the order, and the company replied that it was on the way. I replied that I would reject the package, at which point they would have to give me a refund, right? Sure enough, the following Friday when I was out of town, the package showed up. When did the tracking update? After the package showed up. 

So now what? Well, I escalated the claim with PayPal to “item not as described” or whatever they call it. Then, for the sake of documentation, I did an unboxing video! I mean, I HAD to open them at that point to see if they were really as bad as I thought they would be. Spoiler alert: they were. In fact, I’d say they exceeded expectations on that front. The figures are now sitting in a plastic bin awaiting their fate.

body-kun body-chan figuarts bandai fakes
This pretty much captures how I feel about these. I really wanted to like them.

Depending on what PayPal does or doesn’t do, I might get a refund, I might have to send them back, or nothing happens at all. I’ll definitely keep you updated! 

Don’t be like me – don’t buy junk from Instagram ads. 🙂

Posted on Leave a comment

Fluid Art Materials! (All My Faves!!)

spray paint artist mtn hardcore Liquitex acrylic

There’s one thing a lot of artists do in their fluid art videos that I don’t – show their materials. I started out recording all of that and ended up never putting it in because I use the same basic materials every time. It would be pretty boring to watch the same few minutes of me showing the same few bottles every week anyway, right? 

This list is all of my favorites things (and some other stuff) to put into my fluid art! Some are requirements (well, to me they are), and some are just nice to have, but it’s what I’ve come to like after some trial and error. We all do it differently! 

I buy almost everything from Dick Blick because I like their selection the best and their prices are competitive. I’ve also found their shipping speed (even the free) to be better most of the time. Their biggest competitor once took a week to put my stuff in a box when I paid for shipping to get something on time – not okay. They aren’t sponsoring this post (hey, Dick Blick – wanna sponsor me?), this is just my experience. Sometimes you can grab a deal from Amazon, but you run the risk of getting old materials that have been sitting in a warehouse ever since warehouses were invented.

(Full disclosure/disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by anyone, but I have included some affiliate links. I only link to places I shop!)

Liquitex Pouring Medium – This is the base for all of the paintings! My numero uno! My bread and butter! All of the paints are mixed into this stuff. Pouring medium reduces crazing (crevices in the paint) and leaves a nice glossy finish. It’s expensive and I’ve noticed the price fluctuates a bit, so shop around. The big art supply websites typically have the best prices, but once in a while you can get a deal on Amazon.

Don’t skimp and get something smaller than a 32oz – it won’t be enough (especially if you love it!). If I’m doing a lot of paintings I’ll blast through a gallon of pouring medium pretty quickly. I still use that first 32oz bottle I bought and refill it as needed from the gallon bucket – it’s way easier to manage. When I’m on my last 32oz, that’s when I reorder. I’ve started exploring different techniques to reduce how much I use since I went through two gallons in a month at one point (mistakes can cost you – literally!).

fluid art painting paint dirty pour Liquitex pouring medium
This bottle has seen a few pours….

Golden High Flow Acrylics – These are beautifully pigmented and a little goes a very long way. They are a little expensive, but they can last a long time. I’ve also used them to paint with and left them sitting out in the palette for a long time. They didn’t dry out or even skin over nearly as quickly as regular acrylics do. A set of these is worth having in your arsenal just because. 

fluid art paint painting Golden High Flow Acrylics Drawing Set
These are all colors from the drawing set. I am forever running out of Indigo. It’s time to grab a big bottle!

Liquitex Professional Acrylic Ink – You get what you pay for with acrylic ink. This costs a little more, but it the color holds well when it’s thinned out. I use these sometimes, but I prefer the high flow acrylics when I need something lighter and thinner.

fluid art acrylic paint painting Liquitex Ink Primary Colors Set
From the primary set. They’re more of a like than a love for me.

Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Water-ResistantArtists Ink – Less expensive than Liquitex, but I find that I have to use more to keep the colors true when adding to the medium. BUT, it’s readily available at the local art store, so when I need something in a hurry I make that 40% off coupon work!

fluid art acrylic ink paint painting daler rowney
I love combining these neon colors with glow in the dark paint for some blacklight-ready paintings! (However it takes a lot of ink to keep the color bright in the pouring medium. Sometimes using the ink straight is better).

Spray Paint – I use Liquitex Professional Spray Paint and MTN Hardcore 2 Spray Paint. I also use Krylon. Which is the best? I don’t have an answer for that because I just started using these and I’m working at a Kindergarten level with them. I’m leaning more toward the transparent colors from Liquitex layered over the opaque MTN. More on this some other time – I’m still playing. 🙂

fluid art spray paint acrylic painting
The latest addition for me. Don’t forget a mask and proper ventilation!

Generic Craft Acrylics – You can get these pretty much anywhere and a small bottle is fifty cents to a dollar. You might have seen people poo-poo on these because they are cheap. They aren’t as lightfast and can cause some crazing if you use too much. That’s true, but ask yourself this – are you making a painting that’s going to end up in the Louvre 100 years from now? Me neither. These paints are hands down the best way to get started on the cheap. Once you’ve got all your staple materials built up, they are still a great way to fill in the gaps in your palette and try new colors. 

fluid art acrylic craft paint painting
These let you experiment with lots of different colors and finishes.

Silicone – Different artists add different things to their fluid art to get cells and I’ve found that I like silicone the best. I use this whatever brand because… it’s what I’ve always used? I can go to the store and get it if I need to, but I’m actually still on the first bottle I ever bought. It cost four bucks and has lasted nearly a year. Easily the most cost-effective material on this list!

silicone fluid art painting acrylic
At first I thought this was Elmer’s. It’s this other brand apparently. Elmer’s makes something similar, though.

Generic Painting Panels – I first tried to pour on those flimsy canvas panels that come in packs of three or five. All they did was warp. I don’t know if they were absorbing the moisture or if it was the paint contracting as it cured, but I used exactly two of these panels before I switched. 

Canvas – Stretched canvas can work and I do use it from time to time, but the weight of the paint can cause it to sag in the middle and then the paint just pools there. Not cool. Smaller canvases (think under 8×10) work pretty well. I especially like getting gobs of the tiny ones when they are on sale and pouring a bunch of them together as one piece. They are too small to sag and they are cheap to pour on!

3/4” Painting Panels – These were (and sometimes still are) my go-to. Some brands are better than others, but I found the Blick brand worked best for me. There was another bunch I ordered from another site and nine of the ten of them had damaged corners. They were also very poorly packed.

I’ve never had a problem with the Blick ones and I still order them if there’s a good deal on them. They are thick enough that they will not warp and they have slots in the back for hanging, so you don’t need any additional hardware to finish the piece. The only issue I have there is sometimes the painting looks better upside down and the slot is on the other end! Blick has some that have a regular cradle, so you can hang them however you want. I recommend grabbing these when they are on sale. Sometimes you can get a deal on the Blick Super Value Wood Panel Packs.


Build Your Own Panels – This what I do now. I use 1/4” birch plywood and 1×2 pine boards for support. Materials-wise it’s cheaper, but it takes time to build the panels. It also requires space and tools – not something everyone has and that’s okay! If you don’t build, you don’t have to deal with the noise, the mess, and the big sigh (and light cursing) when you mess one up. What I do like about it is being able to make whatever size I want and being able to just run to the hardware store when I’m out of panels. On top of that, when I’m building I get to go to this beautiful zen place where all that matters is “measure twice, cut once” and whatever happened earlier that day doesn’t matter. 

Ready for primer!

Is there something you think I should try? What are your favorite materials? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! Until next time!

Posted on Leave a comment

Stickers! Stickers! Stickers! [Making a New Journal]

stickers paper sketches projects

Now that the outside cover was all done, it was time to figure out the inside cover for the journal. I had no idea what I wanted to do, except that there should be color. So I took one of my staple color combos – indigo, turquoise, and magenta – and dripped the paint around the inside of the front cover. It was looking… ew… so I closed the cover to try to get an ink blot effect. It *sort of* worked. I figured it was going to be mostly covered with stickers anyway, so I let it dry and pulled out my big ole stash of stickers. Yay STICKERS!!!

Did you know you can get packs of 100 or more vinyl stickers on Amazon for about ten bucks? Not promoting anything here, but when I need to make the free shipping (I REFUSE to get prime), those sticker packs are just the best!

I went ahead and picked out my faves. I’m talking the stickers I liked so much that I would probably never put them on anything, ever. Well, if ever there was a place to put said stickers, it would be on the inside of my journal. After picking out all the good ones (omg what are you gonna think about all the ones that I thought were good??),  I separated them into piles of black and white stickers and color stickers. Then I sort of figured out which ones would go in front and which ones would go in the back. Sort of, because we both know whatever plan existed was going to change part way through anyway.  

I thought it might look cool to transition from the black and white cover to a more colorful inside. So I put the black and white stickers toward the edges and the colorful stickers in the middle. I’m not sure if that translated, but that’s what I did.

journal making stickers inside cover
Transition! Or another hot mess… STICKERS!

When I moved on to the back inside cover, things got a little sticky – pun intended. I used WAY too much paint. When I closed the cover to smoosh it all up, it didn’t really want to let go. Then it started to run, so I dabbed it and smooshed it again. Eventually I got it to some kind of a happy place where paint wasn’t running and pooling everywhere, but it took a long time to dry. Seriously, it felt like FOREVER. 

journal making inside cover
Not only did it take forever to dry, parts of it stuck shut after the book was closed for a while. There are a couple of rips in there now. 🙁

It was actually more like I had to leave it overnight and stop working when I didn’t want to (*stickers!*). The next day the paint was still a bit tacky underneath, but that ended up being for the best because I had an idea. I was going to add A POCKET. Not just any pocket. A pocket made out of one of the pages I ripped out! It was another one of those singing angels moments and I’m pretty sure the entire room started to sparkle. 

After a bit of cutting, folding, and gluing I had a pocket! I put some of my leftover sketchbooks scans around it and proceeded to sticker away! 

journal making inside cover
I’m pretty proud of that pocket. I may or may not have glued it shut at one point.

All that was left at this point was prepping the inside pages, which would probably make for some boring pictures, except maybe for the first and last pages. I had two things that absolutely had to go in the journal. First, there was this big fairy sticker I bought at Hot Topic at least ten years ago. I have no idea why I got it, but I had it for so long it was time to finally give it a home. Onto the first page it went! I thought it would be a nice representation of all things past, since by the time I started the journal everything at the beginning would be in the past. 

journal making inside page
This sticker was just the COOLEST THING EVER.

Then there was the last page. That was filled with strips of pink unicorn duct tape because how could I NOT use pink unicorn duct tape? Buuuuuut, if I’m going to assign it some meaning it does represent a lot of change since I bought that fairy sticker. Back then the only color I really liked was black and everything all whatever and stuff, but I’ve worked at moving away from that and been through lots of life decisions. So I guess we can say pink unicorn duct tape represents change and moving forward while still being myself because I bought that on a whim, too. 🙂

journal making inside page
I had to do it! The unicorns told me to!

For the rest of the journal I just divvied up the sections, glued some stuff in, added drawing and watercolor color paper where it was needed, and that was it! I closed my freshly made journal for the year with pride and-


journal making craft diy
There’s just too much love packed in there!

Remember where I said pages needed to come out to make room? Protip: Make sure you take out *enough* pages. Watercolor paper especially can be pretty thick. Even though it doesn’t close all the way, I still think it turned out pretty sweet Plus, it’s one of a kind, with plenty of other quirks built into it already!

If you want to watch me put this thing together in super sped-up time, you can check out the video here: 

Thanks for sharing this little journey with me. If there’s another project you’d like to see me take a crack at, let me know! Until next time!

Posted on Leave a comment

Overcoming Fear and Failure [Making a New Journal]

Where did we leave off? Right, we’re all set up and about to thoroughly destroy a perfectly good book! No worries – it’s all in the name of art! Let’s make this journal!

First thing’s first, we need to start ripping out pages. I know, I know. It. Is. Scary. It’s especially scary if you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to write in books or even dog-ear a page when there’s no bookmark handy (*cough cough*). However, if you’re adding paper to your journal, some pages have to come out in order to make room. Otherwise your book won’t close all the way. 

So I sat there looking at the book, counting out the pages over and over again (read: procrastinating because I was scared), trying to decide whether it would be better to cut or tear the pages. Finally I just started to rip – and it was terrible. I was thinking that it would be this nice, smooth rip, and it would have been if I had been smart enough to use a straight edge as a guide, but I rarely plan that well. The first page ripped out was looking pretty bad and there seemed to be too much of it left. I knew I didn’t want to rip too close to the spine because of the risk of losing pages, but it looked awful.  Then I did the worst thing I could have done and started picking at it. 

journal making book recycle pages
Disaster! (not really)

I tried ripping one more page after that and switched to scissors. My cuts were a little rough at first, but once I got into my groove they got better. Every sixth page was gone in a couple of minutes and by the time I got to the last one it was actually kind of cathartic. I want to rip out more! Give me more books! 

journal making book recycle
She turned me into a newt. It got better. Just like my cuts! Does anyone remember when they learned how to use scissors?

After this I turned my attention to the cover. I gave it a light sanding to make sure all the things would stick to it, then painted the front and back with a thin layer of fluid acrylics – black around the outside blended into white in the middle. Dab, dab, dab with a sponge and it was painted in a few minutes.

journal making book recycle
Ready to paint my future journal!


journal making cover paint
A little base paint to get that green covered up!

Then I started laying out the decorations. I had neatly cut strips of decorative paper and neatly cut prints of drawings from my sketchbook.  An obscene amount of Modge Podge was used to secure each one and I dabbed paint around the outside of each one to try to blend it into the paint.

journal making cover
I think I should have seen the problem at this point.


journal making cover fail
Even more so at this point. Hindsight, right? But that’s what happened when you cling to an idea instead of recognizing that it’s not working…

I had this vision in my head of the images looking like they were emerging from the cover – or something. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out that way AT ALL. It was just the front cover that got to this point, but it was bad enough that it stalled me for a week. I didn’t even pick up all the things – I just left it there. I walked by the book every day, sulking about the terrible outcome. It looked awful. My idea was terrible. I ruined my book for nothing! WHAT HAVE I DONE?? Oh the DRAMA!

journal making cover fail
This is what haunted me for a week (I cleaned up my paint though).

Technically, since I used Modge Podge, I could have wet the cover and peeled everything off. However, exposing the cover to that much moisture would probably have damaged it. Plus the layers of paint were a pretty big wildcard. So when I started over I just went right over the top! My approach was similar to the original idea (it wasn’t bad after all!), but rather than being meticulous in cutting and placing everything, I just ripped it. The edges of the decorative paper and the sketchbook scans were all ripped and I did not use the paint to try to tie it all together.

journal making cover
It’s kind of poetic that my mistake is lurking under there. Not that I had much choice! 🙂

This let everything sort of blend together on its own. I loosely planned where everything would go, but ultimately it happened in the moment. I also included a colored piece on the front and the back, because as much I love me some black and white, it had a depressing look about it. 

journal making cover
Maybe it still looks a little messy, but that’s me. Organization is for the birds! (Do birds organize?)


journal making cover
This is the back cover at a dramatic angle. Because dramatic angles are what all the cool kids are doing.

Collaging the back cover was smoother than the front because there wasn’t a snafu to hide, but with both I continued slopping on the Modge Podge (not really the way you’re supposed to do it) to get some neat textures and wrinkles. I added a little doodle on the bottom of the spine and the outside cover was done! 

On to the inside!